Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Beer is Good for You


...according to Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD. Here are her reasons for saying so:

It slashes heart disease risk
All alcoholic beverages, including beer, have been shown to boost HDL, the "good" cholesterol, lower LDL the "bad" cholesterol and thin the blood, to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. Moderate alcohol consumption, which is one 12 oz beer a day for women and two for men, has also been linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes and improved brain function in older adults.

Beer offers unique benefits compared to wine and spirits
In the Nurses Health study, over 70,000 women ages 25 to 42 were tracked for the link between alcohol and high blood pressure. The study found that those who drank moderate amounts of beer had lower blood pressures than nurses who drank either wine or spirits.

It may help reduce kidney stones and boost bone density
In published research men who chose beer had a lower risk of kidney stones compared to other alcoholic beverages, possibly due to the diuretic effect combined with beer's high water content. Other studies show that compounds in hops may also slow the release of calcium from bone, preventing it from forming a stone. Likely for the same reason, moderate beer drinking has been linked to higher bone densities among women.

Beer contains vitamins, minerals and surprise: fiber!
A standard 12-ounce lager contains just under 1 gram of fiber and a dark beer just over a gram. And in general regular beers contain several B vitamins. A 12-ounce brew also packs more calcium, magnesium, and selenium (a key antioxidant) than a serving of wine.

But Guiness is especially good for you, according to Lisa Bramen on the Smithsonian.com blog:

[The claim that Guinness is good for you] was eventually bolstered by the fact that Guinness contains iron. Pregnant women were even advised to have an occasional pint. Of course, it would take something like a dozen pints a day for a woman to get her recommended daily allowance of iron, in which case the alcohol and calories would cause more harm than good.

But another health benefit was discovered in 2003: stout beer like Guinness (as opposed to lager and other light beer) is high in the antioxidant compounds called flavonoids—similar to those found in red wine, tea and chocolate—that can reduce the risk of heart attack from blood clotting. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin carried out laboratory tests on dogs (Irish setters, I wonder?) with clogged arteries, comparing the effects of Guinness and Heineken. Only those dogs fed Guinness had reduced clotting.

So start drinking stouts and get healthy! I wonder if this includes all beer made with dark malts? If so your hop heads can quench your thirst and heal you body with the now numerous Cascadian Dark Ales.

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